It's time for the 14th UBports Community Update! We didn't have Jan or Dalton this time, but that doesn't matter because Marius, Flo, and Wayne are great.
Thanks to our sponsors
Right now, as I type this post, our Patreon monthly contributions are sitting at $2,268. Thanks to every one of you.
We'd also like to thank Smoose, Private Internet Access, and Digital Ocean. Their support in monetary donations or services give us more time to develop.
Also, an extra-special thank you to Packet.net for allowing us to use a prerelease ARMv8 server free of charge as part of the Works on ARM project. It's been an incredible boon to our workflow, allowing us to build huge projects in minutes rather than hours. For example, Mir is building in ten minutes, where it took 3 hours on previous infrastructure.
We say it every time, but we really mean it. We wouldn't be here without you.
The Librem 5 was funded
The entire Linux community seems to have exploded at the idea of the Librem 5 phone from Purism. We are happy to see their successful funding, but still feeling cautious about the project. For example, we have serious concerns about the development roadmap.
Ubuntu Touch should run (with only a few modifications) on the 5, but we aren't really digging in to it until the world sees the hardware.
The very astute source sniffers around the community have been seeing one word quite a bit recently.
But how does it work? Why is it here? Why is it called Sudoku?
Project Sudoku is our latest plan to fast-track the development of an image based on Ubuntu 16.04. It involves taking a majority of the Unity 8 / Mir source that is running right now on 15.04 and rebuilding it on 16.04. Easy, right?
Actually, it seems like this will be much easier than continuing all of the conversion work from the final Unity 8 sources back to phones. At the end of Unity's life inside Canonical, the convergence vision was (mostly) dropped in the hope of bringing it to market faster. This included some work to convert Upstart scripts to SystemD units, rewriting slow QML modules in C++, and some other extremely thoughtful and useful additions. Unfortunately, none of this work was completed and we're left with something that's... half baked. Marius sent me a picture of two people walking up some stairs and then falling back down to illustrate the difficulty of making Xenial work.
By going back to 15.04 sources, we forego all of the improvements, but also all of the hardship of completing these conversions. This is definitely a huge compromise, but one that we hope can get ourselves on a more stable, updated, and secure base OS.
Sudoku refers to the idea that we need to take parts and ideas from everywhere we can to complete the puzzle that is Ubuntu Touch. It's also a prime example of why you don't let developers name things.
Right now, testing is being done on the Oneplus 3 and other experimental (Android 7.1 with CAF sources) devices. Mir and QtMir work. Unity 8 starts sometimes, if you don't breathe on it incorrectly.
If you're interested in the technical side of Halium, check out its website.
Flo has been working with the community to improve the Telegram app for Ubuntu Touch, and is pleased to announce that supergroup support is in the pipeline. Supergroups are appearing in the app's internals, but displaying and interacting with them isn't working so well yet.
Flo would like to thank all of the contributors that have been working with him on making Telegram for Ubuntu Touch an excellent chat experience.
It appears that Telegram is almost the only app that Canonical's notification service is used for at this time. We're expecting this service to be shut down at the end of the year.
Telegram is willing to change the endpoint for their notifications if we are willing to receive them and have a service with a compatible API to Canonical's. This is definitely not ideal as the current service has proven to be rather slow, unreliable, and doesn't seem to be very private. All messages are sent in the clear to the server, which relays them to the device. We don't want the responsibility of protecting the message data of every user. We also don't like the idea of requiring people to have explicit trust in us before using a third-party service.
OTA-3 Most wanted features
On September 2, Marius created a thread asking for the community's most wanted features in OTA 3. 142 posts later, we had a large set of possible (and some impossible) requests.
The most-requested improvement to Ubuntu Touch was Bluetooth stability. This was closely followed by being able to move the text cursor around in an easier way.
We're happy to report that the second request has been fulfilled. Users who are using the Devel channel will find that they can press and hold on the keyboard then swipe left or right to move the text cursor.
Bluetooth fixes will prove to be a bit more challenging. It's no secret that desktop Linux has trouble with Bluetooth. Since we just have a desktop Linux base (and a quite old one at that) under the hood, it's no wonder that we have major issues as well. We hope that a quick jump to 16.04 (possibly aided by Sudoku) will help us be able to focus more on backporting Bluetooth features from newer versions of Ubuntu.
Other notable requests were better battery life, an update to the browser, and running Android apps.
Mir, in the future
On October 12, Canonical announced the release of Mir 0.28. This brings a lot of new features to Mir and there is no way that I could do them any justice writing about them here. Check out the linked blog post to learn more.
There is one important feature, though. Mir 0.28 brings preliminary support for Wayland clients, meaning that any Wayland application should run on the Mir server. This is demonstrated in this Youtube video, also linked in the release announcement post.
This should also mean that Mir or Wayland client applications that are packaged as snaps should work on a 16.04 base with Mir 0.28.
We are happy to say that we've collected the required members to file the paperwork to raise the UBports Foundation. This is an important step forward in the process. Our goal is still to have the Foundation ready for the beginning of next year.
The UBports Foundation's mission is to support the collaborative development of Ubuntu Touch and to promote the widespread use of Ubuntu Touch. It will give users a body to trust in the development of Ubuntu Touch. It will also improve our transparency in funding, spending, and decision making.
To learn more about the UBports Foundation, please visit its home page on our website.
Do you have the official Ubuntu Touch documentation?
Yes, it's all on GitHub. Assuming you mean the documentation on docs.ubuntu.com.
Why not skip 16.04 and go directly to 18.04?
An excellent question. To many people, it seems like a silly idea for us to try and rebase on top of 16.04 when 18.04 has just entered its development cycle.
As Marius explained, this is an idea of "walking up stairs" instead of "jumping up stairs". Going from 15.04 to 16.04 isn't easy, but it seems to be much easier than going from 15.04 to the (very early) 18.04. Similarly, rebuilding 15.04 sources on a 16.04 base isn't easy, but it is faster. Choosing the easier path means a faster release, which means we don't get left in the dust. Release early, release often.
Are apps moved from the Canonical store to the OpenStore yet?
We've taken a fairly conservative stance on moving apps wholesale from the Canonical store into the OpenStore. We don't want to be stuck with a ton of apps that will never have any hope of being maintained again. Instead, we've been contacting and encouraging developers to move their apps on their own accord.
If you have any app that you just can't live without and the developer hasn't moved it yet, we encourage you to let them know that you love their app and want to see it continue.
Questions from Update 13
Sorry we didn't get any show notes published for Community Update 13. Here are the notes from the questions in that episode.
Can you offer full disk encryption capabilities?
We don‘t have a GUI for this yet, but we should have the ability to encrypt the home folder using the terminal similar to how it‘s done on a regular install of Ubuntu.
How can one contribute to graphics and UX design?
There are multiple ways to present and offer them, first you can get hold of us on Telegram or #ubports at Freenode, you can send us your work there.
You can also find information on our Get involved page.
If you wish to submit new designs via github, you can start an issue and post images of your ideas.
How can I create a theme?
Right now, you‘d do this by creating a UITK style, but we don‘t have terribly much information for this. It‘s possible that changes will come with 16.04, but we‘re not sure yet.
Have you considered a hotfix release to fix (issue x)?
Yes, we have considered it. We have decided that we will not offer hotfix releases unless an issue is both a regression and critically damages use of the phone. For example, if the radio on every Nexus 5 broke with a stable update, we would release a hotfix.
Other than that, we want to stick to our 6-8 week schedule of OTAs.
Will you remove the Ubuntu Store in OTA-3?
We will remove the Ubuntu Store after it closes.